Time to initiate more women into the outdoors
At the end of March Ted Nugent visited Big Rapids and spoke to a packed audience at Ferris State University. After talking for 90 minutes with his usual enthusiasm for hunting and conservation he answered questions from the audience. I decided to ask Ted how to get women more interested in hunting. He responded by telling me that I need to initiate conversations with women and that I should be as active as possible in different organizations so my voice gets heard.
Well, here goes…time to initiate a conversation — most know that women are currently the fastest growing population of hunters.
I attend various outdoor shows with Mac, my husband, and talk to as many women that stop at the booth as possible. Some stand in the background so I try to pull them into the conversation. Others are eager to talk about hunting and fishing. It seems to me that there are three categories of women that I talk to. There are "definitely outdoors women," "want-to-be-outdoors women" and "definitely NOT outdoors women."
The "definitely outdoors women," as I said, are eager to talk about their various exploits. Many of them, like me, didn't start hunting or fishing until they were older. When I spoke to Ted, I stated that one thing I was sorry about was that I didn't start this whole adventure sooner. He said he hears this all the time from women. Some women started hunting on their own. They booked trips with other women or by themselves. Some women started hunting because their significant other hunted and they wanted to spend time with them. Some of these women now hunt more than the men in their lives! Mac told me a story about a couple that turkey hunted with him years ago. The wife stated that the only reason she was going after a turkey was because her husband wanted her to. The first morning Mac and the couple were sitting in the woods and the toms were gobbling like crazy. The woman shot a turkey that morning. After shooting the turkey, Mac asked the woman what she thought about turkey hunting now. She said, "I heard that turkey gobbling and all I wanted to do was shot it!" The following year Mac talked to the couple on the telephone and the woman said she was now hunting deer. She was hooked!
A lady at one of the outdoor shows told me that she never goes hunting with her husband because he makes her too nervous. He's always telling her what to do and what not to do. For her, a women's only hunt like the NRA's Women on Target program, works.
I realize that being an outdoors woman does not mean that she has to hunt and fish. There are many activities that take place outdoors that women enjoy. I have friends that camp, kayak, and hike. My daughter, Laura, for instance, does not hunt or fish. She does, however, like to go for walks and enjoys taking photographs of flora and fauna. For the sake of this article, though, I am concentrating on the hunting and fishing aspect.
The "want-to-be-outdoors women" are the ones that we need to find ways to get them out enjoying nature. These women want to get involved but they don't know where to start. There are many women's outdoor programs in Michigan to get involved in. They can spend as much time or as little time as they want. Many of the events are free or relatively inexpensive. For instance, every fall Mac's Outdoor Adventures has a women's archery deer hunt. Send me an email at email@example.com if you are in this category and I will try to help you find an event near you.
The "definitely NOT outdoors women" are definitely NOT outdoors women. If you are not, it's OK even though Ted said "being a hunter is the closest to perfection that people can be."
My friends in this category do not understand how it can be "fun" to sit in the woods until after dark and then walk back to the car without a flashlight. "Aren't you scared?" is the most common question. Nope, I'm not! I am more scared in the middle of a big city with people all around me. My friends also do not understand our home décor. "How can you stand having all those animal heads on the wall staring at you?" Easy; they are not staring and I like the way they look. My personal favorite question they ask is "Don't you hate the way your hair looks after wearing a hat all day?" Nope. My hair washes real easy. Sorry, my friends, for not agreeing with you but I am an outdoors woman and I still love you even though you are not.
Some of the women at the sports show say that they don't mind that their husbands or boyfriends hunt and fish. They enjoy the time that the guys are out of the house and they have time to themselves. Some of these women go on vacation or go shopping. Some just enjoy having the whole house to themselves. One lady told me that she doesn't do housework or cook while her husband is at deer camp. It's her "mini vacation."
As far as Ted Nugent's other piece of advice which was to be as active as possible so my voice gets heard, I do belong to several organizations such as the NRA, SCI and NWTF. I enjoy writing for Woods-N-Water. Next year I am scheduled to present at several women's outdoor programs. I get involved with my husband's outfitting business and talk to many people at the outdoors shows. I would like to get more involved with outdoor activities for girls and young women. I need to keep looking for opportunities to promote women's outdoor activities. I also need to find a way to increase the number of hours in a day!
So I hope I helped initiate a conversation somewhere. Women, get out and enjoy the outdoors! Ted, thanks for your advice!
The author welcomes comments and questions. Please feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. n
June 25, 2008